A transgender woman has been convicted of raping two vulnerable women when they were male after a jury rejected claims that the attacker “would never hurt another human being”.
Isla Bryson – formerly known as Adam Graham – was found guilty of two violent sexual assaults in 2016 and 2019 following a trial at the High Court in Glasgow.
Bryson switched after her first court appearance, a month after committing the second rape.
The verdict comes amid major controversy over transgender rights issues in Scotland, after the UK government blocked SNP legislation that would have made it much easier for Scots to change their legal gender.
During deliberations on the bill, members of the Scottish Parliament voted down amendments designed to prevent male sex offenders or people accused of sex offenses from legally becoming women.
Proponents of the legislation labeled the attempts as transphobic “dog whistles”.
However, a jury decided that Bryson, 31, had carried out the violent attacks while known as Adam and rejected claims that consensual sex was involved.
‘Very serious allegations’
Lord Scott, the judge, postponed sentencing but warned Bryson – who arrived in court on Monday dressed in a bright pink coat and handbag – could face a long prison sentence.
Bryson was remanded in custody and is expected to be transferred to a specialist ward of HMP Cornton Vale, a women’s prison, according to sources with knowledge of the case.
“You have been convicted of two extremely serious charges,” Lord Scott told Bryson. “Given what you have been convicted of, a significant custodial sentence is inevitable.”
Bryson first appeared in the dock in July 2019 as Adam Graham with a Mike Tyson-style facial tattoo. In 2020 Supreme Court documents, the rapist was subsequently referred to as Annie Bryson.
This was around the time Bryson told the jurors about a decision to transition from male to female. Jurors were told that Adam Graham was Bryson’s “dead name”.
Susan Smith, a spokesperson for the campaign group For Women Scotland, said the case exposed the dangers of the SNP’s plans to allow Scots to change their legal gender simply by obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) by making a statement sign.
“Just last month the Scottish Government refused to consider the possibility of refusing men accused of rape to seek a GRC,” she said.
“This case shows that predatory and abusive men will stop at nothing to manipulate courts and treat victims of torture. If this man could have obtained a GRC, there would have been more protection around the identity of the suspect.
“We can only be thankful that some politicians still value the safety and dignity of women. But for [the UK Government veto]this situation could have been so much worse for the victims.”
‘I told him to stop and he didn’t’
Bryson had assaulted the first victim in a flat in Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire, and the pair had met on the Badoo dating site.
The rape took place on September 16, 2016 after Bryson locked the door and got into bed next to her.
In pre-recorded testimony played back to jurors, the victim said, “I thought Adam had come to cuddle and – at that moment – everything felt weird and wrong. I didn’t know what was going on.”
The woman recalled repeatedly saying “no” to the “muscular” assailant.
The second woman was raped on June 27, 2019 in a flat in Drumchapel, Glasgow. Bryson told jurors about alleged “sexual issues” the 34-year-old had shared on the social media site Bigo.
The court heard that the couple were in the flat together and were planning to watch the film Mean Girls.
The victim recalled feeling “crushed” when the attacker she knew as Adam was thrust upon her.
She stated, “I told him to stop and he didn’t. He continued. Then I closed my eyes and let him do what he wanted to do.”
When testifying, Bryson – who admitted to being “scared” on the witness stand – often became emotional as he refuted the allegations.
“I would never do that,” Bryson said. “I would never hurt a woman.”
Bryson first made the decision about “transitioning” from a man to a woman in 2020 after first being charged with rape. Bryson received hormone treatment.
Asked about surgery, Bryson said: “Of course I want all the surgeries the NHS can provide.”
Lord Scott postponed Bryson’s sentencing until February 28 in Stirling.